To tell a story, you are supposed to start at the beginning, and I wish I could, but I'm not really sure what story I want to tell, or where the beginning of it is. I have so many beginnings tucked away in my computer, stories in various stages of completion, one that has reached the end, and only requires, according to my assistant who proofread it for me, me to explain where a certain sex toy came from in the plot, other than my imagination.
If I were to tell you about writer's block, which some people believe is a real thing and some people think is simply an excuse to not write, I wouldn't know quite where to start either. The block, though, I can describe. In my imagination, it's not a block, exactly, but a box, one I keep moving toward and instead of stepping over, I sit down and open. I open it and unearth its contents and each time, no matter whether the contents have shifted, morphed, or even disappeared for the most part, I take them out and examine them, endlessly fascinated, as if seeing them for the first time. I take them out and let myself get lost in them, immersed in their every facet, overwhelmed by their minutiae, absorbed, engrossed, subsumed by even the most nothing of items. It's kindof a perfect metaphor for my apartment, where those objects are real, and endless. There is always a distraction.
That's what this week was like, pausing over morsels I'd placed in that box, listening to podcasts, reading anything and everything, waiting until I felt like I was ready. Even when a friend told me, "I'm so glad you're writing this," I didn't stop and close the box and say to myself, "Time to move on." I said to myself, "Isn't it great that she's such an awesome friend that she took the time to tell me that?"
I don't know where this post is going any more than I do most of my stories but I do know that today at a coffeeshop, a different one than my usual hangout, I bunkered down and finished a story I'd been working on for months, that was started for one anthology and then was meant for another. It combined the theme of people over 50 and hotel sex and took as its setting a hotel where I was hit on by a pickup artist. In some ways, it was very me, and in some ways, it was new and not me. I don't know where it will wind up, or if I have it in me to finish another one tonight. I just know that I loved that feeling of realizing the end was near, not because I'd hit some word count or rushed through any scenes, but because I figured out how the characters fit together. I managed to work texting into what might be called a humiliation scene; I like when I can add an inanimate object, like a smart phone or glass of champagne, into a story, like I did there.
My own smartphone and I have been apart for four days and I have to say, it's been rather idyllic. I haven't talked to anyone except my boyfriend, his friends, who made us dinner and were much easier to talk to than I'd expected, and my grandmother. I'm a little afraid of returning home and turning on my phone; I much prefer the silence of emails landing in my inbox. Next weekend I will be in Virginia, and then I will be seeing Bruce Springsteen on April 3rd, and then I will be flying to Portland for a new tattoo and meeting my friend's baby and a reading, before heading to Seattle and San Francisco and Santa Cruz and Berkeley, but I'm not ready to think about those cities, full of beginnings and middles and memories. Instead I'm savoring the silence, marred only by the whirring of my laptop and my fingers banging the keys as I try to figure out how to close those last boxes and leap over them into whatever unknown is waiting for me on the other side of them.